Today we bring the word of God to bear on the difficulties we face from day to day. We have been supplied with everything we need to live victorious, joyful lives in Christ. We all are like David facing various Goliaths, and without understanding the “what,” we’ll never learn the “how,” in overcoming stubborn sins. We must know the legal facts concerning our case. Jesus is the Judge and He is kindly dispositioned toward us.
Being raised up with Christ also means that all that is true of Christ is now true of us, because we’re “in Him.” Let’s say I put a piece of paper inside my Bible. Whatever happens to my Bible happens to that piece of paper. If I take my Bible home, the piece of paper goes home too. If I drop my Bible, the paper drops. The paper is in the Bible. And the believer is in Jesus Christ. We are totally identified with Him.
In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). While it takes a lifetime to discover and mine out those treasures, they’re ours in Christ. In Christ we have the surpassing riches of God’s grace—His kindnesses toward us (Eph. 2:7). In Christ, we have been made complete, so that He is now our “all in all” (Col. 2:10; 3:11). If we’re in Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness through His precious and magnificent promises (2 Pet. 1:3-4).
Paul states here (Col. 3:1) the mind-boggling truth (which he also states in Eph. 2:6) that we have been raised up with Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God. We’re seated there in Him! When you look up all the places in the New Testament that refer to Christ’s being seated at the right hand of God (the phrase comes from Ps. 110:1), they generally fall into three categories:
First, it refers to Christ’s supreme power.
Ephesians 1:20-21, Paul prays that we might know:
… What is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
You can’t get any greater power than that! He is not yet fully exercising that power, but is awaiting the time when His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:13; 10:13). But He is now seated at the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69). And we are there in Him! Paul’s application of this in relation to our battle against sin is (Rom. 6:12-13):
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Secondly, being seated at God’s right hand refers to Christ’s sufficient pardon. Hebrews 1:3 states,
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The fact that Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the Father means that He obtained complete pardon for all our sins.
Hebrews 10:12-14 states:
But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
If we’re in Him at the Father’s right hand, we can be assured that He has forgiven all our sins. The enemy has no basis to accuse us (Rev. 12:10). We’re accepted in Christ (Rom. 15:7).
Thirdly, the fact that Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the Father means that we are the objects of Christ’s sympathetic prayers.
In the context of our sufferings, Romans 8:33-34 assures us,
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
When you get discouraged and lose hope, it’s encouraging to know that your mother or father or a faithful friend is praying for you. But family and friends are only human; they can’t pray for you constantly. But the fullness of Deity dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 2:9), and He is at the Father’s right hand interceding for you in your weakness (Heb. 7:25; 8:1). So when you battle temptation or you wrestle with discouragement, remember that you’re in Christ. You shared in His death and resurrection. You’re seated with Him at the right hand of God, where He has all power, you have all pardon, and you have His prayers. You win against sin by living in light of your identity in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
But, you still may wonder, how does this work? How do we implement it practically?
To win the battle against sin, constantly seek to understand and meditate on your identity in the risen Christ.
- Our new life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3b: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What does Paul mean by this? First, he may be taking a swipe at the false teachers, who emphasized secret or hidden truths for those who would be initiated into their so-called “philosophy.” He’s saying that we Christians are the ones with real hidden truths that the world cannot know. Outwardly, we look like everyone else in the world. But our real life—eternal life—is hidden with Christ in God. The world can’t understand it, but it’s true.
This phrase may also point to the security of our new life in Christ. In Psalm 31:20 David says of those who take refuge in God, “You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.” (See, also, Ps. 27:5.) If our life is hidden with Christ in God, we’re safe there.
A third implication of the truth that our life is hidden with Christ in God is that it needs to be mined out as a buried treasure. These truths that God declares about us in Christ may not be immediately obvious, but if we’ll take the time and effort to dig them out of God’s Word, they will be like gold and silver to us (Ps. 19:7-11; Matt. 13:44-45). But, how do we find these treasures?
2. We seek the things above by making them the continual pursuit of our thinking.
There are two commands in our text: “Keep seeking the things above”; and, “Set your mind on the things above.” Both are present imperatives, suggesting a continual process. To keep seeking these things means to make the truths of Christ as revealed in God’s Word our constant pursuit, our focus, our aim. Just as worldly people get up early and are focused day after day on pursuing material things, so Christians should be devoted to pursuing the things of Christ.
This doesn’t mean that we should drop out of life and spend all our time meditating on spiritual truth. The Lord expects us to work and live in this world. But it does mean, as Jesus put it, that instead of working for the food which perishes, we should work for the food which endures to eternal life (John 6:27). We should seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We should begin each day thinking about God’s perspective: We’re separate from this evil world, dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ. We think about Christ as our life, who lives in and through us. Throughout the day, we keep bringing our thoughts back, again and again, to those things which are true of us in Christ.
To “set your mind on the things above” shows that this continual pursuit of the things above involves our thinking. The Greek word means, “Have your whole attitude characterized by those things.” The present tense implies that we must make repeated choices to focus our thoughts not on the flesh, but on the things which are true of us in Christ so that our whole outlook is determined by these truths. We will view ourselves, not as citizens of this world, but as having died and now being raised up with Christ, so completely identified with Him that He is our very life.
The truest thing about you is what God says is true, not what you may feel. How you think about yourself determines how you act. Your thought life also determines, to a large extent, your emotions. Here Paul is saying that we must constantly, by deliberate choice, focus our thoughts on the risen Christ and on the truth that we are totally identified with Him. In Christ, we have been separated from this evil world and from our old nature which seeks to pull us back into sin. Now, we should repeatedly think, “I am now in Christ.” As that truth shapes your identity, it becomes the key to a holy life! That’s how you win against sin. One final thought:
The motivation for seeking the things above is that when Christ is revealed, we also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Colossians 3:4: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” What an amazing truth! When Christ, who right now is our life, returns, we will discover the full truth about ourselves in Him. We will be revealed with Him in glory! Then we will know fully, just as we have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12). As 1 John 3:2-3 states,
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Knowing that one day we will be revealed with Christ in glory motivates us to godly living right now. Seeing ourselves in Christ is the key to winning the battle against sin.
Years ago, a plastic surgeon noticed some interesting things about the people whose faces he operated on. For some, the operation resulted in immediate and lasting changes in their personalities. People who had been embarrassed about some disfigurement became confident and outgoing after the problem was fixed.
But in spite of successful surgeries, there were others who insisted that the surgery made no difference at all. The doctor would show them before and after photographs, but the people still insisted, sometimes angrily, that their faces were no different. They refused to believe the truth and went on living just as they had before, dominated by their previous disfigurement, which no longer existed (These stories are in Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-cybernetics [Prentice-Hall, 1960]. I do not recommend the book, which is full of spiritual falsehood.) Their lives were not changed because they didn’t believe the truth about the change that had taken place.
As Christians, we’ve been given much more than a face lift. We have died to our old lives and have been raised up to new life in Christ. All that is true of the risen Christ is now true of us. Now we must continually keep seeking and setting our minds on the things above, where our true life is hidden with Christ in God. As we live in light of our new identity in Christ, we will win the battle against sin.
1. Does a Christian ever reach a point where he is dead to sin in the sense that it no longer tempts him?
2. How can we believe that we’re dead to sin when we feel so alive to it? Are we just playing mental games?
3. Practically, how can we seek and set our minds on the things above? What daily habits can help the process?
5. How would you help a Christian who said, “I feel so weak when I’m tempted; I just can’t resist”?